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USA's Path to the World Cup Starts March 26th

By Thetoaststaff
USA's path to the World Cup starts March 26th 
By: Brandon Whitfield
The US Men’s National Team gathers this weekend for their week long training camp in preparation for their friendlies against Argentina and Paraguay.  The Yanks will face Argentina on March 26th at the Meadowlands and Paraguay on March 29th at LP Field in Nashville.  Bob Bradley has announced his 24 man roster that will meet in Cary, NC on March 20th.  Here is the announced roster in its entirety:
GOALKEEPERS (3): Marcus Hahnemann (Wolverhampton Wanderers), Tim Howard (Everton), David Yelldell (MSV Duisburg)
DEFENDERS (9): Carlos Bocanegra (Saint-Etienne), Jonathan Bornstein (UANL Tigres), Timothy Chandler (FC Nürnberg), Steve Cherundolo (Hannover 96), Jay DeMerit (Vancouver Whitecaps), Oguchi Onyewu (FC Twente), Tim Ream (New York Red Bulls), Jonathan Spector (West Ham United), Zak Whitbread (Norwich City)
MIDFIELDERS (9): Michael Bradley (Aston Villa), Clint Dempsey (Fulham), Mikkel Diskeruud (Stabaek), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy), Maurice Edu (Rangers), Benny Feilhaber (AGF Aarhus), Stuart Holden (Bolton Wanderers), Jermaine Jones (Blackburn Rovers), Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht)
FORWARDS (3): Juan Agudelo (New York Red Bulls), Jozy Altidore (Bursaspor), Edson Buddle (FC Ingolstadt)

This is a nice time for the US to try and sort out who will be included in the Gold Cup this summer.  As you can see, most of these guys are overseas and right in the middle of their club seasons.  Due to this, I believe everyone will be in their best form and we won’t have to worry about any rust.  Bradley decided to only take 3 forwards, which makes me think that he really wants to get a look at our Midfielders and Defenders during training.  I hope to see Agudelo paired up with Jozy at some point during the two games.  The 18 year old Agudelo has a very bright future - he scored on his US debut against South Africa in November.  We need some help from our forwards in the goal scoring department.  I do think Jozy did his job as a physical presence during the World Cup, but he needs to come through with some goals.
The group of Defenders that Bradley decided to bring includes most of the usual suspects.  I like our defenders overall as they are gritty and play pretty well as a unit.  I believe over the next cycle leading up to the World Cup we will need to reload our back line.  This line is very old and I doubt anyone except for maybe Onyewu will be playing for the US in Brazil.  I have never been a fan of Bornstein, and Spector has been playing as a midfielder for West Ham.  I would have liked to see Eric Lichaj get a call up.  It will be interesting to see who Bob uses for the Gold Cup.  A new player that I am looking forward to watching is Timothy Chandler, who plays for Nürnberg in the German Bundesliga.  Like Jermaine Jones, Chandler was born to an American father and German mother.  The 20 year old has already decided that he wants to play for America and has been phenomenal in his first season at Nürnberg.  He was moved from forward to Left back and defensive midfield since his move to Nürnberg. This change has obviously paid off as he is a budding star.  I hope Bob decides to use him in one of the matches so fans can be exposed to him.
The midfield is definitely a position of strength right now for the National Team.  I can look at that list and say that three are having career years in Edu, Holden, and Dempsey.  All three of these are vital to their club teams.  Stuart Holden has had a breakout year at Bolton and really poses a bit of a problem for Bob Bradley as he usually plays out wide for the US but he has had an enormous amount of success playing through the middle for Bolton.  I think most fans figured that the middle of the park would include a combination of Maurice Edu, Jermaine Jones, and Michael Bradley before the start of the club season.  Holden has played so well that he has put his name in the hat for that role.  Holden gives the US much more going forward through the midfield compared to his competition for the role, as the other three are a bit more defensive-minded.  It will be very interesting to see the lineup that Bradley uses for the two matches.  I expect a different midfield for each game so that Bob can get a proper look at the players in game action.
These two games will provide a great challenge to the US.  Argentina will bring a full strength squad to New Jersey, which includes Messi and Angel Di Maria.  Roque Santa Cruz was not called up for Paraguay but their squad does include the likes of Oscar Cardozo and Lucas Barrios so they will be very tough as well.  The Argentina match will air at 7p.m. ET on ESPN2 while the Paraguay match can be seen three nights later on Fox Soccer Channel at 8p.m. ET.

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